Feb 5, 2021 | LIFE | By Kara Thomas | Illustration by Xixi Qin

You’ve probably heard of Blue Apron and HelloFresh, two popular meal subscription services in the U.S. But did you know there are over 150 meal kit services in the U.S. alone?

Meal kits, or meal subscription services, are a type of meal delivery service that is often subscription-based. Meal kits originated in Sweden in 2007 and hit the market in the U.S. around 2012, with Blue Apron and HelloFresh. The businesses first attracted older millennials in urban areas, but have since grown to service Gen Xers along with millennials.  

Meal subscription services often include fresh ingredients and pre-prepared sauces, along with a recipe the user can make at home. The convenience of meal kits does not come without its drawbacks, however. They have been criticized as harmful to the environment, with smaller individual packaging and a potential higher gas mileage with individual drop-offs. Meal kit services have responded to this criticism by developing eco-friendly packaging and undertaking studies that show they have a smaller carbon footprint than grocery stores.

Since the launch of meal kits in 2012, there have been no shortage of difficulties. Changing eating habits, diets, and lifestyles have forced the companies to constantly evolve their services. You can now find meal kits aimed at servicing specific diets, such as Paleo and Keto. Additionally, customers now expect more out of these services, such as lower pricing, meals that can be made quickly, and meals that can be made for the whole family.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a unique opportunity for the meal kit industry. With 54% of consumers cooking more than they did before the pandemic, there is expected to be a rising trend in meal subscription services due to COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders. Additionally, the demographics of meal kit subscribers are expanding to older generations at higher risk of COVID-19 complications if they were to leave their home, and to younger generations tired of takeout and looking to simplify the cooking process.

Meal kits offer an opportunity to eat healthier and save time by not grocery shopping and spending time planning your meals for the week. However, in the case of college students, meal subscription services might be past some student’s budgets. Nevertheless, with the growth in meal kit services and focus on meeting the needs and wants of customers, meal kit services could be a great option for time-crunched students who aren’t great at making themselves healthy meals during the school week.

A few budget-friendly meal kit services worth looking into include Hungryroot, Veestro, and HomeChef.

Have you tried out a meal kit service? We’d love to hear about it! Email me with your review. You can also shoot me an email with any food-related questions, comments, or concerns.  

Leave a Reply